Failing at Digital Transformation, Get Back on Track, NOW!
When GE embarked upon an ambitious attempt to transform its product and service offerings digitally, little did they know that not many would acknowledge its transformation—ultimately resulting in a failed endeavour. GE is not alone; Lego stopped funding its Digital Designer virtual building program. Nike reduced the size of its digital unit by discontinuing its Nike+ Fuelband activity tracker and other investments. Procter & Gamble aspired to become “the most digital company on the planet” but ran into growth difficulties in a challenging economy.
What can we understand from these cases of digital dreams deferred? How did these smart, experienced companies make decisions that failed? Hence, arises the most pressing question in my mind, why 84% of companies fail at digital transformation?
THE REASONS FOR GOING DOWNHILL
A research from McKinsey & Company depicts that the significant investment allocated towards latest technologies can be perceived within the company as impacting the firm negatively. Some people even think the digital efforts are destroying the company’s existing products. Yikes.
Sure, spending big money on a significant new initiative can shake-up an organization. But implementing latest technology is not usually the failure point—it is subtly different than that.
Numerous digital transformations are failing because people do not understand why the organization requires to change in the first place. Over the last few years, this digital development has become synonymous with adopting latest technologies. The term itself offers little guidance for Chief Information Officers and other decision-makers when setting the technological agenda in an organization. On the flip side, the same few technologies come up again and again: artificial intelligence, cloud services, big data, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Another reason why digital transformations fail is that the effort is not focused on the consumer, and the team has no focal point to plan, track, and measure it. But I understand that there is a deeper root cause: complexity—an oftentimes unacknowledged killer when it comes to digital transformation progress. Complexity is possibly more of a root cause than all the cultural and management challenges when it comes to prosperous digital transformation ambitions.
The leaders of organizations start too late to invest in IT (Information Technology) as they want to adopt what their competitors are incorporating, without understanding if that particular technology will be contributing towards the company’s productivity. Since they are late, they are deemed to rush into digitally transforming the organization. As a consequence—they want to eat the whole pizza in one bite—they do not analyze if they have resources who can assist them with the project but rather rush towards the project with incompetent resources, resulting in failure.
HOW TO GET BACK ON TRACK?
I believe this is the question that needs to be answered by all experts to assist those who are drowning in the sea of digital transformation. But, seldom, there is an answer. Let me lay out a few points that will be helpful to make digital transformations easier and effortless for you and your company.
Do not assume that every IT project should be complex!
There are ways to be successful in your IT initiatives without having to falter or encounter failure. Just remember not to rush these digital transformations— eat the pizza one bite at a time!!!—let them come into play one at a time with proper training being implemented to the workforce to understand how to adopt these reforms flawlessly.
Follow the four critical elements of a successful implementation—plan, build, run, and monitor
To experience profound success in your digital transformation project. Leaders need to plan which technologies they want to adopt that will contribute towards the success of an organization and then slowly build the transformation one-at-a-time and then implement it in the organizational workflow. Once the project is up and running, all you have to do is monitor the project to see if the project is churning the expected result.
Assemble a team that has the proper skills
Remember to assemble a team that has the proper skills to make the digital transformation a successful project. Don’t worry if you are late to start your project. Never put all your eggs in one basket! Instead, take one step at a time to thoroughly understand the project, implement it accurately, see the progress, and then take the next step towards the road of complete digital transformation.
Your IT initiatives must be aligned with your business objectives
It might sound simple, but most of the companies fail to comprehend it (I will discuss this topic in a detailed manner in the upcoming blogs)—or as a leader, you need to understand what is the requirement of the company and how you can incorporate the best technology which can take the company to new heights!
You will struggle when you are adopting a change, but remember that without this forward-thinking mind-set, any organization will strive to achieve real change. Maybe a transformation focused on new technology is the answer. But maybe not. You might need to invest in data to better understand your customer’s needs. Or maybe your customer needs you to offer the product differently.
The point is that digital transformations often fail because the scope of what it takes to deliver better customer experiences is usually much broader than adopting the newest technology—it takes examining every angle of the customer’s journey with your product/service.
For many organizations, the failure rates and daunting efforts surrounding digital transformations can make them question whether it is worth it.
The simple answer is, of course, it is.